Air Fried Chicken Tenders are smothered in a homemade hot lemon pepper ranch sauce that’s sweet, tangy, and herby with a kick of heat. My air frying process makes your chicken so melt-in-your-mouth juicy and tender that it just breaks apart with little effort.
Serve with ranch or blue cheese and you have the perfect appetizer for Football Sundays!
If you prefer bone-in wings over tenders, you can also use this glaze for crispy air fried chicken wings using the same cooking method I use in my Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wing recipe.
Why You’ll Love Air Fried Chicken Tenders:
There are so many reasons to adore these hot lemon pepper ranch chicken tenders.
- Made easily in an air fryer in just 15 minutes
- Incredibly tender and juicy, they just melt in your mouth
- Use this same sauce recipe for bone-in chicken wings
- Ultimate game-day snacking
- The perfect high protein meal or appetizer
- Great for making-ahead and keeping in the fridge for lunch salads
- Serve with veggies for an easy dinner
Here are the key ingredients you’ll need in these air fried chicken tender recipe. Be sure to review my recipe card below for the full recipe!
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Powdered Ranch Seasoning
Lemon Zest & Juice
My Go-To Chicken Seasonings (paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne)
How to Make Air Fried Chicken Tenders:
These air fried chicken tenders couldn’t be simpler. The sauce is incredibly flavorful that you’ll want to pour it over everything! Here are the three easy steps to making these chicken tenders. Be sure to read my full printable recipe for detailed instructions
Step 1: Prep your chicken tenders by removing the tendons (instructions show below). Place them into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and seasonings. Toss well to coat.
Step 2: Make the hot lemon pepper ranch glaze by melting together butter and honey, adding in all seasonings, lemon zest, etc. and whisk until smooth and separate into two bowls.
Step 3: Baste the chicken and air fry at 400 degrees, cooking in 4-5 minute increments, flipping and basting as they cook (13-15 minutes total). For the final cook, turn the heat to broil for extra color. Once they are cooked through, spread them with glaze one final time before serving.
Prep Tenders – Remove Those Tendons!
One thing that is very important when cooking with chicken tenders is to remove the thick white tendon that runs through the chicken. I am surprised that even some restaurants don’t do this.
You’ll be much happier removing the tendons as it will result in a much more pleasant eating experience. Moola Savings Mom has a great and easy demonstration below of how to remove tendons.
How to Cook Chicken Tenders in The Oven or Grill
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken tenders on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and cook for 15-18 minutes (or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees), flipping half way through and basting with the glaze a few times throughout the baking process.
Switch the oven to broil and cook an additional 2 minutes so get the tops slightly charred. Remove from the oven and baste it one last time with the sauce and enjoy!
Preheat your grill to medium-high. Place the prepared tenders over direct heat and cook each side for 5-6 minutes each, basting with glaze throughout the cooking process. Remove from the grill and baste it one last time with the buttery glaze and enjoy.
Be Sure to Separate the Sauce Bowls
It’s important to separate the lemon pepper ranch glaze into two separate bowls. You’ll use the first one for basting the raw chicken and par-cooked (partially cooked) chicken tenders.
The second bowl will be the “clean” sauce that’s used to baste the chicken in the final stages of the cooking process. Be sure to also wash your basting brush before transitioning to the clean sauce. You don’t want to cross contaminate your chicken.
Looking for More Game Day Foods?
I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Hot Lemon Pepper Ranch Air Fried Chicken Tenders. Be sure to comment below with any questions or feedback! If you make these or any other recipes, don’t forget to tag me on IG @BadBatchBaking to be featured on my story. Seeing your recreations makes my day!
Hot Lemon Pepper Ranch Air Fried Chicken Tenders
- 2 lbs chicken tenders
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 tablespoon powdered ranch seasoning
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspooon each: salt and pepper
Hot Lemon Pepper Ranch Glaze
- 1/2 stick butter 4 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons powdered ranch seasoning like Hidden Valley
- 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
Prep Chicken & Glaze
- Place chicken tenders into a bowl with olive oil and seasonings. Mix well so they are evenly combined. Set aside while preparing the glaze.
- In a medium bowl, add butter and honey. Heat for 30-40 seconds or until butter is mostly melted. Whisk in the seasonings, taste and adjust to your preference.
- Separate sauce into two bowls - one for basting the raw/partial-cooked chicken. The other bowl for basting the cooked chicken to prevent cross-contamination.
Cook & Glaze Chicken
- Heat an air fryer to 400 degrees. Load the tenders into the air fryer basket (in batches if necessary). Use a basting brush to spread the tenders with the glaze. Cook for 4 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Flip the tenders, baste again with sauce and return to cook for 5 minutes.
- Use a clean basting brush and clean sauce to baste one final time. Turn the air fryer to broil (450 degrees) and cook for a final 4-5 minutes. Once the tenders are cooked through, plate them and hit them with one additional pass of the glaze. Enjoy!